Andrew Roussak was born in Russia, in 1968. At the age of seven he started a classical piano training at school, inspired by his mother and an uncle, they were skilled amateurs on the piano. But Andrew was not only focussed on classical piano, he was also blown away by the way Jon Lord transformed Bach into rock on his Hammond organ. And by the virtuosic keyboard pyrotechnics from Keith Emerson and Rick Wakeman, especially on the Hammond and Moog synthesizer. When he was sixteen Andrew started playing in bands, blending his classical education (like Bach and Vivaldi) on piano with modern progressive rock (from ELP, Yes, Gentle Giant and Genesis to UK). In 2001 he moved to Germany and continued his work as a professional rock musician: he released the solo albums No Trespassing (2008) and Blue Intermezzo (2010, see review), two albums with the prog metal band Dorian Opera, and he was involved in lots of activities in bands and projects (musical, opera, blues, boogie, hard rock and power metal). In 2019 Andrew released a new solo album entitled Storm Warning on which he plays all instruments (using high tech software in his home studio), Andrew only invited guest musicians for the lead vocals and guitar soli in some tracks.
During my first listening session I got more and more excited, and gradually I was carried away to Keyboard Prog Heaven, what an exciting sound, and I love the ultra-bombastic climates. Most tracks contain up-tempo beats, fuelled by a powerful and dynamic rhythm-section, incredible that the drums and bass are created on the computer!
Exciting Hammond work and spectacular fat Moog flights in Enter Code.
Awesome interplay between keyboards, guitar and the rhythm-section, a break with spacey synthesizers and flashy synthesizer flights in Bringing Peace And Progress (often Japanese band Gerard comes to my mind).
From sparkling Grand piano and a Jobson organ sound to dazzling synthesizer runs and heavy guitar play in Regata Storica.
From again those sensational dazzling keyboards runs to spacey synthesizers, from thunderous drums, heavy guitar and sensational synthesizers to dreamy with surprising sparkling electric piano solo, and 'AOR meets ELP' with a swirling Hammond solo and heavy drums and guitar in the exciting and alternating title track.
And from an ultra-bombastic atmosphere with Hammond, heavy guitar riffs, thunderous drums and flashy synthesizer runs to a compelling slow rhythm with a Kashmir-like orchestral sound, topped with blistering guitar and opera-like female vocals in Malta Sketches.
The other three tracks each contain a more mellow climate with lots of strong musical ideas, emphasizing the impressive writing skills of Andrew.
Between dreamy with acoustic guitar and soaring keyboards, and more bombastic with heavy guitar riffs and Emersonian synthesizer work in Left Alone Outside. This is topped with pleasant vocals from Max Kottler and a sensitive guitar solo from Oli Weislogel. This track sounds like a dynamic blend of AOR and symphonic rock.
A dreamy climate with tender piano and warm vocals from the outstanding, obviously classically trained Nadia Ayche, then a wonderful and sparkling Grand piano interlude and finally another moving electric guitar solo by Oli Weislogel in Chasing Shadows.
The final composition Can She Excuse My Wrongs delivers lots of variety. First dreamy with the distinctive harpsichord sound, then an up-tempo beat with Hammond (rock meets classical, like Rick Van Der Linden with Ekseption and Trace) and spectacular synthesizer flights, fuelled by powerful drum beats. Finally a surprising a capella part, then joined by delicate harpsichord runs, and in the end coloured by Hammond and Moog. Wow!
If you love keyboard driven prog like ELP, Rick Wakeman solo, Trace, UK, Triumvirat, Erik Norlander, Par Lindh Project, Little Tragedies or Gerard, this third solo effort from Andrew Koussak is an exciting musical experience!
**** Erik Neuteboom (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)
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